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arafat mem 298.88 ap.(Photo by: AP)
Arafat memorial: 14 hurt as wooden stage collapses
11/12/2006
The head of the Presidential Guard, an elite security unit, and Arafat's sister, Khadija, were among those hurt in the collapse.
A wooden stage collapsed during a memorial for Yasser Arafat on Sunday, lightly wounding 14 people, including the sister of the late Palestinian leader. Thousands of people attended Sunday's memorial in a Gaza City field to remember Arafat, who died on Nov. 11, 2004, after a sudden, rapid decline in his health. The crowd waved yellow flags of the Fatah Party, which Arafat founded and led for four decades, singing folk songs and firing guns in the air. In the middle of one song, the makeshift wooden stage created for the event collapsed, silencing the crowd for nearly a minute before the singing continued. The head of the Presidential Guard, an elite security unit, and Arafat's sister, Khadija, were among those hurt in the collapse, officials said. Palestinians in the West Bank, where Fatah has stronger support, commemorated Arafat's death on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people converged on his gravesite in Ramallah for a rally meant to reinvigorate Fatah. Fatah, whose January election loss to Hamas ended its longtime domination of Palestinian politics, bused thousands of people to Ramallah for the memorial. As a leader, Arafat inspired strong emotions in both his supporters and detractors. Israel saw him as a terrorist, and some of his people viewed him as deeply corrupt. But many Palestinians saw him as their best hope for achieving independence.
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